It was not the ending SpaceIL had planned for the spacecraft Beresheet, the first privately funded mission to the Moon. On April 11, after a nearly flawless, seven-week journey to lunar orbit, Beresheet—Hebrew for “in the beginning”—began a final, 21-min. engine burn to reduce its speed, drop altitude and land in Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity), near the Apollo 15 and 17 landing sites. Beresheet did indeed reach the surface, but it was not a soft touchdown. About ...

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